The Concert (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/07/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 119 mins

Hugely entertaining and impressively directed, this is a frequently funny French farce with a terrific ensemble cast and an expertly paced script that builds to a powerfully emotional climax.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Radu Mihaileanu, The Concert stars Alexei Guskov as Andrei, who was a great conductor until he clashed with Brezhnev in 1981, supposedly because of his support for Jewish musicians. Now working as a cleaner at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, Andrei sees a chance to reclaim his reputation when he intercepts a fax and impulsively accepts a high-profile gig in Paris that will require him to both reassemble his old orchestra and get them to pose as the Bolshoi.

With the help of his loyal friend Sacha (Dmitri Nazarov) and their old manager Ivan (Valeriy Barinov), Andrei succeeds in persuading all the musicians to reunite, but things start to unravel when they get to Paris, with all the members more interested in sightseeing than turning up to rehearsals. Meanwhile, for reasons of his own, Andrei becomes obsessed with persuading rising-star French violinist Anne-Marie (Melanie Laurent) to play Tchaikovsky's violin concerto.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Guskov and Nazarov; their relationship is both believable and touching, while their bickering is consistently amusing. Similarly, Laurent is luminous as Anne-Marie, in a part that could easily have been heavily sentimentalised and the excellent supporting cast do well to transcend their rather stereotypical characters (wheeler-dealing Jews, Lenin-loving Russians, passport-forging Gypsies, etc).

Mihaileanu's control of the material is assured and the film is nicely paced throughout, spending time with each of the supporting cast yet maintaining a sense of forward momentum. Similarly, frequently funny script contains several surprises and cleverly side-steps some of the expected cliches.

The Great
Needless to say, the music in the film is exceptional and the climactic concert scene is beautifully directed and powerfully moving in a way that somehow allows you to forgive the fact that no one has actually rehearsed beforehand.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Concert is a superbly directed, beautifully acted French farce that's both powerfully emotional and laugh-out-loud funny. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The Concert (12A)
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Content updated: 24/09/2018 06:28

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